Madhya Pradesh all-rounder Venkatesh Iyer credited state coach Chandrakant Pandit for his maiden India call-up in the team for the T20I series against New Zealand. Iyer, 26, scored 370 in 10 games while opening the innings for Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL-14.

‘Credit to my parents, coaches’

“All credit should go to my parents, my family and all the coaches especially my childhood coach Dinesh Sharma sir, Chandu Pandit sir, who groomed me and also Amay Khurasiya sir [former India batsman], who played a crucial role. He [Pandit] is very proactive and a great tactician. His involvement with MP Cricket Association has helped us to hone our skills better. It’s been a wonderful journey with him and I hope it continues,” Iyer remarked.

When asked if he was expecting to be picked since he was assisting the Indian team during the T20 World Cup in the UAE, he said: “I was focusing on the Mushtaq Ali Trophy tournament and not was expecting anything. Every cricketer just dreams about playing for the country, but I don’t look too far. I am happy that I have been given the opportunity and I will look to prove myself.”

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The Rohit Sharma-led Indian team will lock horns with Kane Williamson’s strong Kiwi side in three T20I games beginning in Jaipur on November 17. “Every international side is a challenge. It’s just about going out there, trusting your ability and doing what we have been practising throughout. I am not looking at it as a challenge. I am viewing it as an opportunity to play for the country and do well. I am an all-rounder, so obviously mine is a dual role. When I get to bowl, I look to put the ball in the right areas and while batting, I back my natural ability,” Iyer said.

Long-term cricketing goal

Iyer, who has represented MP in 10 first-class games, has 545 runs and seven wickets (medium pace) under his belt. He did MBA in Finance and also completed preliminary examinations in Chartered Accountancy, but has set a long-term cricketing goal to excel in red-ball cricket too. “All three formats are very good and crucial. It’s not like I am looking only to be a white-ball player. So, obviously I am working on my basics again and if given a chance, I will look to contribute there as well,” Iyer signed off.

Rajinikanth is my inspiration: Venkatesh

Attacking left-handed batsman Venkatesh Iyer is inspired by superstar Rajinikanth’s down-to-earth approach. He also has Rajinikanth holding a bat as his WhatsApp DP. “I am a huge fan of Rajinikanth and very much inspired by him. I have watched a lot of his movies. He’s a larger than life character. And the way he behaves off the screen…he is very humble, very down to earth,” remarked Iyer.

No. of runs scored by MP’s Venkatesh Iyer in five matches of the ongoing Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 @ 51.66

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